“Cooking with Nonna” creator Rosella Rago

Proud of her dual Italian and American roots, Rosella Rago has made a career of deliciously blending the two with her beloved grandmother by her side. Rossella Rago, the culinary entrepreneur and host of the delightful instructional web series “Cooking with Nonna,” says her passion for food began just as you’d expect — when she was a little girl looking to lend a hand with Sunday supper. “I remember spending hours in the kitchen just watching my mom, nonna, and great aunts all cooking and talking,” Rago says. “But I was so young they wouldn’t let me touch anything.” Relegated …

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Chicago Fire owner Joe Mansueto

An American entrepreneur with deep Italian roots, Joe Mansueto is bringing the indomitable spirit of his ancestors to bear on his latest challenge: the transformation of Chicago’s Major League Soccer team. Local billionaire Joe Mansueto made headlines last September when he bought the Chicago Fire, and the dramatic changes he has made to the city’s Major League Soccer team have kept them both in the news ever since. This may seem like the latest chapter in a great American success story that began when Mr. Mansueto attended the University of Chicago and continued when he built a major investment firm …

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“FBI” star Jeremy Sisto

Best known as the pencil-wielding team leader on the CBS hit drama “FBI,” Jeremy Sisto has steadily built an impressive acting resume thanks to a devotion to the sorts of details that bring his characters to life. Telly Savalas had his lollipops. Peter Falk had his trench coat. And Jeremy Sisto has his pencil. Appearing on the hit CBS drama “FBI,” now in its second season, Sisto’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine commands an elite team of investigators in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office, and he does it all while spinning, chewing and pointing …

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Lyric opera Maestro Enrique Mazzola

The Lyric’s incoming maestro brings with him impressive credentials and a towering passion for his repertoire, his fellow artists, his new audience and his new home. When Anthony Freud stepped onto the Civic Opera House stage before the second act of “Luisa Miller” on Oct. 20, the audience gave a cry of dismay. They knew what announcement was to come from the general director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago: Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja was ill, and could not continue singing. After American soprano Toni Marie Palmertree stepped in to replace ailing star Krassimira Stoyanova as Luisa at the top …

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Star Wars star Gina Carano

After making her mark as a mixed martial artist, then toiling in the trenches as a working actress, Gina Carano landed the role of a lifetime in the ongoing “Star Wars” saga. If you’re professional fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano, what do you do when one of Hollywood’s biggest directors asks to meet? Well, like any good Italian American, you bring a bottle of wine to the meeting, of course. And not just any wine, Carano told Fra Noi in an exclusive interview. This particular vintage was one that holds a special place in her heart because it comes from the Sonoma …

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Windy City shows Chiaverini the love

Miles of charm and a winning on-air chemistry with co-host Val Warner have contributed to eight years in the spotlight on “Windy City Live.” Ryan Chiaverini projects such a warm, affable presence as the co-host of the ABC7 talk show “Windy City Live” that as I waited to talk to him, I wondered whether he acts that way in real life or whether it’s just a persona for TV. A moment later, he bounded into his office with a big smile, a proffered handshake and a friendly gesture motioning me to sit on a sofa. During a round of chitchat, …

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Unintended tenor Giorgio Berrugi

Giorgio Berrugi was making a name for himself as a concert clarinetist until an impromptu serenade sent him on a completely different career trajectory. Giorgio Berrugi’s unlikely career as one of opera’s most electrifying upstarts is proof that second acts aren’t just for the stage. The 41-year-old tenor, whose voice has been celebrated by opera critics and fans for its bright and full-bodied Italian sound, has ascended into rarefied air in little more than a decade. Berrugi has performed for some of opera’s most esteemed houses — including the Royal Opera House in London, Lincoln Center in New York City …

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Transcendent tragedian Maria Agresta

Fueled by her affinity for Italian opera’s great tragic heroines, Maria Agresta recently returned to Chicago to play the role that launched her flourishing career. With a candle in hand, a poor seamstress searching for a light enters the life of a poet in 19th century Paris. They fall in love, they spar, they reconcile, and finally they mourn a shared flame extinguished far too soon. It’s beautiful. It’s heartbreaking. It’s quintessential opera. Giacomo Puccini’s “La bohème,” which first premiered in 1896, initially received tepid reviews. But the critics didn’t do much to halt the opera’s meteoric rise, and more …

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Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco

Despite ascending to a comedic pantheon that includes the likes of Seinfeld and Chappelle, he remains rooted thanks to his Sicilian-American upbringing. When talking about ace standup Sebastian Maniscalco, Jerry Seinfeld once lovingly quipped, “Has anybody in the history of comedy had more syllables in their name?” That’s how you know Maniscalco, a comedian who has spent the last 20 years building a career up from scratch, has finally reached rock-star standup status. Here was Seinfeld, the reigning king of comedians who reportedly earned $69 million last year alone for his own standup, inviting Maniscalco on his streaming show, “Comedians …

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